why managers fail

This week I wanted to talk about something that is very real and affects so many new managers – Why new managers fail.

It’s no secret to many of us that new managers fail at a very high rate.

But Gartner just released yet another study that found a whopping 60% of new managers fail within their first two years.

I remember when I first stepped into the role years back seeing a similar study and it was at about 53%.  Am I surprised that it’s gone up? No. The challenges facing new managers are still not being addressed in the workplace.

But here’s the kicker, the rate at which new managers fail is expected to move even higher due to COVID. That’s because many new managers are trying to figure things out, learn and adjust remotely and under constantly changing circumstances.

Reading that truly made me sad.  You all know I’m on a mission to get that number down as much as I possibly can.

Naturally, I don’t want this to affect you. I want you to be part of the batch that makes it and gets an opportunity to grow your career, grow your leadership skills, make an impact, become an influence to your team and so much more.

So I wanted to address it head-on this week by talking very directly about some of the reasons so many fall into this 60% and growing category and what you can do to make sure you stay clear.

Again, like I mentioned earlier, this is a video I’ve been meaning to do for quite some time due to the high new manager failure rate.  More than half are gone from that position in less than two years! That’s barely getting your feet wet really.

So I wanted to call out some of the main causes of why new managers fail by talking about the things I did when I first started out that caused a lot of my setbacks. I also want to share the things I see my current clients doing where we are making adjustments and improving their results.

Would you prefer to read rather than watch? Not to worry! You can read the blog post below. 

But first, to really help you stand out in your new role I highly recommend downloading the New Manager Starter Kit. A free downloadable interactive guide to help you show up and stand out and take the right action steps.

Number 1 – Thinking me vs we

One of the things I often notice when I get on a call with applicants of my coaching program is they usually start off the call talking about their achievements and how great they are.

This is a big no-no and that attitude needs to change.

Listen, if you have been following me for some time you know I’m one of your biggest cheerleaders.  My goal is to improve your confidence as a manager and a leader.

But, if every thought you have revolves around you, there’s no way you are going to be successful.

Number 2 – Not setting clear expectations

A lot of managers set standards without actually explaining or giving clarity to their team members around what they are actually expecting.

Due to the lack of clarity team members are unable to influence their team’s efforts

Number 3 – Not placing enough value on relationships

I talk to a lot of new managers who start out the gate looking to drive results without having stopped to understand their team.

Trying to drive results from a group of people that you do not understand will not yield results and has some extremely detrimental results.

Number 4 – Relying on the title

Relying on the power that comes from the title will only get you so far.

Command and control only have a limited shelf life.

Number 5 – Not listening

Not listening to feedback, what’s being said and even not said is a recipe for running in the wrong direction.

Number 6 – Focusing on climbing the ladder

I had a call with someone the other day who literally just became a manager and she was already asking me how she could make the jump into senior management.

While having goals and ambitions are great and I encourage you to be constantly growing, focusing on the next before you’re even ready will hamper you to do well in the present.

Addressing the root cause

Now these would be some of the most common reasons why managers fail.

But to me these are really just symptoms more than root causes. And I’m all about the root cause.

So I’d like to go one layer deeper and address some of the real root causes of the symptoms that I’ve mentioned above.

Root Cause # 1 – Internal Factors

Lack of confidence, self-doubt, imposter syndrome, or a fear of failure can cause some of the issues I stated earlier.

Root Cause #2 – External Factors

A lack of support, training, or proper resources or tools to help you really understand what your role requires of you in order to be a success.

So the question is, What do you do?  What do you do if you’re battling with both internal and external factors?

Get yourself a mentor

This person or even group of people that you choose to lean on can help you identify some of the disempowering thoughts you’re having and practically speaking help you navigate through one of the toughest transitions of your career.

Start asking questions and then actively listen to what’s being said

Instead of aiming to be the person that has all the answers, aim to be the person that truly asks the best questions.

I’ve said it before on my channel, one of the best illustrations I’ve heard is that questions are like scalpels – they allow you to get under the surface.

When you improve your skillset of asking good questions you improve your ability to make better decisions.

Ask for what you need

In order to do well, you need resources, tools, and training.

Just like we would never expect a doctor to perform surgery without training, it should not be expected of you.

Most companies have stipends or an education budget for development. Use it to get yourself trained instead of trying to figure it out on your own.

Here’s the truth: you might not have that luxury of time to try and DIY. That’s one reason why so many people fail – they run out of time before they have “figured it out.”

In coaching sessions with clients, it often comes up that they do not want their manager to know that they do not know what they are doing and need some support.

But the truth of the matter is that they already know you don’t really know what you’re doing. You’re brand new.

Trying to pretend you know exactly what you are doing is actually costing the company more money.

The longer it takes you to get spun up, the more mistakes you make which ultimately affects their bottom line.

So there is no shame in saying you need training.

Besides, nothing says to senior leadership they made the right choice better than a manager taking the initiative to get the support they need.

Ask for help when needed

There is no need to try and do it all on your own. This was probably my biggest error.

I got overwhelmed and burnt out real quick trying to do things on my own and it was a HUGE mistake.

Harness the power of delegation by empowering team members to do the things they are good at. You have a lot of people on the team that you can empower through delegation.